Pioneers Rebound at Magness to Dominate Tigers 6-1, Earn 1,500th All-Time Victory

This season has been a battle for the #16 Denver Pioneers (4-7-1, 15 pts). Over their first 11 games, 10 at the Pod in Omaha, DU struggled to play consistent hockey and their 3-7-1 record showed that. If Denver had been battling some demons through their first 11 games, they did their best to exorcise them in a dominant, relentless 6-1 victory over the archrival Colorado College Tigers (3-5-2, 14 pts) in their first game at Magness Arena in 301 days. Brett Stapley and Reid Irwin each scored a pair of goals, Corbin Kaczperski made 17 saves on 18 shots, and the offense finally tapped into some of its huge potential just a night after a lackluster 4-3 loss to the Tigers in Colorado Springs.

Make no mistake, Colorado College is an improved hockey team. Some of the aspects of the Tigers’ rebuild are finally coming into focus and they’re rounding into something that resembles a good hockey team. But tonight, the Pioneers made these Tigers look a lot more like the downtrodden, terrible, NCHC basement-dwelling Tigers of the past seven years. It was, without a doubt, Denver’s best, most complete performance of the season, which is now already at the halfway point. In addition to Stapley’s and Irwin’s goals – Irwin’s first two career goals, for good measure – Carter Savoie and Slava Demin each added a marker, Savoie’s on the power play and Demin’s at even strength to round out the Pios’ onslaught.

As lopsided as the final score was, though, it was a physical, traditional Gold Pan nailbiter for the first 39 minutes. Denver did score the first two goals thanks to a lights-out power play, but CC kept it close thanks to a Dominic Basse save on a two-on-one chance for DU that set up CC’s own two-on-one where Brian Hawkinson found Kaczperski’s five-hole. What could have been a 3-0 lead for DU immediately turned into a close, 2-1 game. But with just 11 seconds left in the middle frame, Irwin scored his first goal to ruin any hopes of a Tigers comeback and build the foundation for a strong, three-goal third period when the Pioneers blew the game open and pulled away.

It seems all too appropriate that DU’s 1,500th all-time victory came in a rout of Colorado College but Denver’s performance tonight was dominant and necessary. With the season now halfway over, Denver has run out of time to figure out how to win hockey games. It’s do-or-die time and the Pioneers responded to that in a big way. This was the kind of performance that Denver was expected to produce night in and night out this year. Maybe it came a little late compared to those expectations but if this is a sign of things to come for the Pioneers over the final 12 games, this season is far from over. And with Bobby Brink returning from World Juniors ahead of next weekend’s series with the Tigers, there are plenty of reasons to feel encouraged about the stretch run of the 2020-2021 season.


David Carle Postgame Radio Interview

Highlights


Top photo: Mark Kuhlmann/NCHC

7 thoughts on “Pioneers Rebound at Magness to Dominate Tigers 6-1, Earn 1,500th All-Time Victory”

  1. Excellent effort tonight by the Pioneers after the stinker on Friday. DU was dominant for 50 of the 60 minutes on Saturday on home ice, which against rival CC, was a much stronger performance. It may be a season saver, if DU is motivated enough to build on it as we roll into the second half of the season. Good to see DU get a good start and build on it…

    Really cathartic to see DU scoring 6 goals – Stapely broke out of his funk, Irwin had a couple of dagger goals to get his college hockey career at DU into the scoring column, and Kaczperski looked solid enough tonight.

    All that said, DU’s defense gave up a lot of shots in the second and third period – there is a a lot of film to help clean up gaps, But I really like the offensive effort tonight – all of the lines created chances as DU got a needed three points. I would go with Kaz next week on Friday now that he has a feel for CC and Magness.

  2. Just what the Dr. ordered. Boy, did DU need that. Really happy to see this team put the puck in the net and play a complete game. The effort was there, the Pios competed hard, and they earned this one. I liked what I saw, and I don’t think we should underestimate the physical element to the game tonight. DU played with an edge, and I think the team fed off of that energy. I can’t help but think they’ll use this effort as a springboard. Only time will tell, though.

    I’m not ready to completely close the book on Chrona this season, but I think DU needs to commit to Kaczperski for the time being and see what he can do.

  3. Pios came out ready to play. Game almost had a must win feel to me. Good to see production from the back end as well.

  4. Great win! Here’s hoping we can say that after each game for the rest of the regular season… and beyond.

  5. Last night looked like the energy and work we are used to seeing. Their backs are against the wall so that approach needs to be taken to every game – win or lose. Getting Bobby Brink back will be a big plus, too.

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